Dude lives in spaceship house


(Image: Christopher Capozziello for The New York Times)

Happy mutant architect Wilfred J.O. Armster designed this fabulous spaceship/boat/floating orb residence from steel, copper and concrete. One of the factors that influenced the design of this building was the need to fit it within a very narrow site. The home was even featured in a 2002 Zippy the Pinhead strip. Snip from NYT profile of the man and his house, by Penelope Green:

"Monstrous," is how a few described the project in an article in The New Haven Register. In the local public school, an eighth-grade teacher held up the article, which was accompanied by a picture of the building's design, and proclaimed, "This is the kind of building that should not be built here." What the teacher didn't know was the name of the architect -- perhaps she hadn't read the article carefully -- so she was unaware that his daughter, Nicola, was in the classroom. "Nicola stood up and debated her," Mr. Armster said proudly.

The public hearing to approve the project has become a local legend, said Mr. Portly, the engineer, who remembered it vividly.

Guilford residents packed the town hall, and stood up one by one to announce their objections: that the structure wasn't Colonial enough, that it didn't fit into the town's heritage, that building it was a kind of heresy. One woman said it would ruin her view as she sailed on the sound. When the litany of complaints had finished, Mr. Armster began to speak.

"I said something like: 'I know you're all Republicans and businessman and I know you think I'm a communist or a socialist. But it seems to me that you are objecting to this building because you don't like the way it looks.' "

The Spaceship Down the Street (New York Times)


  1. I’m with the New Havenites on this one. That thing looks god-awful. I’m all for creative freedom of expression, but seriously, “monstrous” is an apt adjective describing that house.

  2. Wow, Mr. Armster seems like a personable and more human version of Howard Roark.

    As for the appearance of the house, the color scheme doesn’t really complement the landscape, but the shape and overall form of the building seems oddly appropriate.

  3. It’s been decades since I read Ayn Rand, but I saw Howard Roark as a thinly veiled paen to Frank Lloyd Wright. Many the other major characters in the book are also idealized but barely disguised real people. Stanford White and Lewis Mumford were pretty recognizable as I recall.

  4. #8,

    Whoa, that’s an entirely different structure than what I pictured — or see in the NYTimes article. Amazing.

    Its also hard to tell what the structure would look like from the water (based on the one complaint mentioned in the article). From some of the angles, it might look a little cluttered and junky as opposed to space-age and cool.

  5. I used to live in a basement apartment on the same property as a very similar abode in Wilton, CT.


    You entered through the base of the center pillar. The top part ROTATED! :)

    Unfortunately the architect (my former landlord) who lived there passed on a few years back (was quite elderly). I’m not sure if his wife still lives there or if it’s changed hands since.

  6. Oh yeah, looking at the Bing map, my old landlord’s place was nothing like that.

    Still, it was cool. And it rotated! A rotating house. Hehe.

  7. It is an interesting building, but this part of the article got to me:

    Mrs. LiMauro and Brennan,[..] designated themselves the aesthetics police.

    “We dressed all in black and became night marauders and Ninja warriors,” said Brennan, sneaking out late at night to remove wreathes on front doors, as well as doormats and dog beds, or anything else that marred the purity of the place, in their estimation, “cleaning it up and cleaning it up until the essence of the building came back.”

    Didn’t anyone complain?

    “I think they just got tired of replacing their stuff,” she said.

    If I was another tenant there, that would have driven me up the wall. Some random tenant can’t just steal/toss other people’s stuff that doesn’t conform to their “idea” of what the building should look like. I’d have been torn between having them arrested on petty theft charges, vs ensuring my stuff couldn’t get removed (wreath glued to the door with liquid nails, doormat lag-bolted to the stoop, etc.)

  8. I’ve lived the next town over from that thing for years and I’ve always wondered about its occupants!

  9. I was all ready to say “alright! Go dude!” until I saw the image on Bing. I wouldn’t want that thing anywhere near my house either.

  10. Quirky buildings have a way of pissing off the locals at first and then gradually working their way into the hearts of the populace. Parisians thought the Eiffel Tower was an eyesore when it was first built in 1889.

  11. But BrainSpore, hating everything (except what bores you to tears) is a requirement for living in Paris, isn’t it? Can’t you be banished to the countryside for expressing joy in any form?

  12. “Dude lives in spaceship house”? It’s a story about the architect who designed a wild looking condo building. The headline is written like you looked at the picture accompanying the article and nothing else.

  13. @ Xopher:

    Actually Parisians were still more hospitable to Mr. Eiffel’s building than the residents of Barcelona, where the tower was first intended. They hated the design so much that they didn’t allow it to be built there at all. C’est la vie!

  14. Ah, but the Parisians hated it just as much. They welcomed it because having things to hate is what keeps them Parisian!

  15. @Toma


    I was thinking of the same house! That was across the road from the barn I used to ride at. I remember when we first started going there the developments were just starting to encroach. The spaceship house was always so cool, especially after dark when it it was lit up like a flying saucer.

    By the time the barn closed (they got bought out by a development company) four years after we started going there, it was scary how much the farms and fields had gotten masticated by the clone house villages during that time. That part of West Des Moines/Clive is now so development-ish depressing.

  16. Odd, there was a similar shaped office building in Naugatuck, CT.

    It may still be there, but I didn’t remember seeing it last time I was up that way. It was along the road to Bethany, a bit past where the WalMart is now, but on the opposite side. (The Google Streetview car doesn’t seem to have gotten out that way.)

  17. Guilford residents packed the town hall

    This isn’t the America I grew up in! I want my America back!

  18. I hate to point this out, but . . . .


    The house has a staircase that raises and lowers at the push of a button. The local story goes that the builder’s wife got mad at him one time, left the house, put the stairs up, and parked his pickup underneath so they couldn’t come back down.

  19. @#12
    I was surprised at the same quote…esp given the big initial argument for the building per the article: “I said something like: ‘I know you’re all Republicans and businessman and I know you think I’m a communist or a socialist. But it seems to me that you are objecting to this building because you don’t like the way it looks.’ “

  20. What Forgeweld said: this isn’t a house, and the dude doesn’t live there.


    Objecting to a building ‘because of the way it looks’ sounds like a perfectly well-grounded objection to me. And yeah, imo this thing is pretty hideous.

    On the other hand, the neighboring houses (as seen in Elvix’s bing link) are not only hideous, they’re also vulgar and pretentious. So esthetically, I guess this represents a net gain.

    Boy, I’m sure glad I don’t live in Guilford. And I’m sure the residents of Guilford are equally glad that I don’t live there too.

    I do like the copper roof though. They did a nice job with that. And the engineering part of the project seems very sound as well.

  21. I have been inside the Guilford, CT Spaceship Condo. I lived in Guilford, at the time, working for Land Rover. The end unit, pictured above, was for sale. It is a three story structure with the car park as the first floor. From the garage, you walk up a quick flight to a landing, then up another quick flight to the bedroom. It is a nice sized bed room, but would not accommodate a king bed. the bath is on the landing. I can not remember, but I do not think there are windows in the bedroom. Up the stairs to the great room of the unit. The stairs are central and in the rear. You come up behind the kitchen which is in the middle. A large island with sink, stove and chopping block are there, with an attached bar. It may have been a table, it has been years. The windows you see in the above picture are looking out over the NY Sound. The angle of where the sound is in relation to the building, is the angle of the windows. (ie the sound is over the photographers right shoulder.) Looking at the photo, the dinning area is on the right hand side of the structure. On the left of the above photo you see the window kicks up and becomes smaller to accommodate a built in shelf. My realtor and I sat in that condo and watched a storm boil in off the sound. It was breath taking. She was a cute girl too… Ah memories.
    There is little wall space for photos of any size because of the windows. At the time I was a single man who entertained clients quite a bit and the place would have been perfect, but $300,000 for a one bedroom condo was a bit much for my taste: architectural significance aside. Besides, she wasn’t that cute.

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